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Surgical, speech, and hearing outcomes at five years of age in internationally adopted children and Swedish-born children with cleft lip and/or palate

Journal article
Authors Johnna Schölin
Åsa Jonasson
Jessica Axelsson
Christina Havstam
Christina Persson
Radoslava Jönsson
Hans Mark
Published in Journal of Plastic Surgery and Hand Surgery
ISSN 2000-656X
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Plastic Surgery
Institute of Clinical Sciences
Language en
Keywords Cleft palate, internationally adopted, cleft palate surgery, palatal fistulas, speech, velopharyngeal, primary early veloplasty, longitudinal follow-up, velopharyngeal, insufficiency, nutritional-status, current knowledge, standard set, long-term, individuals, chinese, health, Orthopedics, Surgery
Subject categories Surgery


Internationally adopted children (IAC) with a cleft lip and/or palate (CL/P) tend to arrive with un-operated palates at an age at which their Swedish-born peers have completed their primary palate surgery. Our aim of the present study was to analyze surgical, speech and hearing outcomes of IAC at age 5 and compare with those of a matched group of Swedish-born children. Fifty children with CL/P born in 1994-2005 participated in the study. Twenty-five IAC were matched according to age, sex and cleft type with 25 Swedish-born children. Audio recordings were perceptually analyzed by two experienced, blinded speech-language pathologists. Hearing and speech statuses were evaluated on the same day for all children. Surgical timing and complications as in fistulas and requirement for secondary velopharyngeal (VP) surgery, speech evaluation results, and present hearing status were analyzed for all children of age 5 years. Results showed that primary palatal surgery was delayed by a mean of 21 months in IAC. IAC had a higher prevalence of velopharyngeal impairment that was statistically significant, a higher fistula rate, and experienced more secondary surgery than Swedish-born peers. Hearing loss due to middle ear disease was slightly more common among IAC, whereas the rate of treatment with tympanostomy tubes was similar between the two groups. In conclusion, IAC with CL/P represent a challenge for CL/P teams because of the heterogeneous nature of the patient group and difficulties associated with delayed treatment, and the results show the importance of close follow-up over time.

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